21 Aug

I really want our blog to be informative and encouraging for people who are considering or even just curious about adoption.  I’ve tried to think about some commonly asked questions regarding adoption.  Below are some we’ve been asked several times.  Let me know if anyone has others and I’ll try to answer them!

Why international adoption and not domestic (USA)?  Josh and I are open to both domestic and international adoption, but believe the need is much greater internationally.  Few countries have the kind of foster care and government system to take care of orphaned children like we have here in the US.  This is the main reason.

How long does the process take?  That is the million dollar question!  It’s hard to answer this question because it really depends on so many different factors, such as what country you’re adopting from, the age, gender, and health status of the child you want to adopt, the agency you work with, the speed and organization with which you get your paperwork together, and a whole slew of other issues that can arise unexpectedly.  To adopt a healthy baby as young as possible from some countries it could take years (6 years for China, 3 for Bulgaria), but for other countries it takes less than 18 months (Uganda).  One of the reasons we chose Uganda was because we could adopt a young healthy baby and the entire process takes 12-18 months.  Of course, something could happen to make it drag out longer, but at this point it looks like we’ll have our baby home pretty much exactly a year after we had our first homestudy meeting.

How/Why do children become orphans and available for adoption?  There are a number of reasons children are abandoned or given up for adoption, but usually it’s a result of severe poverty, sickness, and hardship in the life of the birthparents.  Sometimes they already have several children and just cannot afford to care for one more.  In many countries pregnancy out of wedlock is extremely shameful, so out of cultural pressure newborn babies are abandoned by unwed mothers.  It’s not uncommon, especially in Africa, to see babies abandoned or given up for adoption at a few months old.  This is most likely because their birthmothers have nursed them as long as they could, wanting to start their life off well and desiring to provide for them the best they could.  Eventually, because of poverty and sickness, these birthmothers are not longer able to provide food for their baby and give them up for adoption at that point.  I think about my baby’s birthmother almost every day.  I pray for her, knowing that right now she is probably making the most difficult decision of her life.  When you hear stories about babies being abandoned it is easy to judge these mother’s and see them as evil and unfeeling because they gave up their baby.  But that is usually not the case.  Most of the time, giving up this baby they’ve carried in their womb for 9 months is the most excruciating choice they’ve ever had to make, but one they felt was best for their baby and themselves.

How is a baby located for you?  Among the copious amounts of information you provide for your agency during the Homestudy and application process are the details of what type of child you would best be able to care for.  You can specify the age, gender, and health status of the child.  It is best to be as open as possible so the process doesn’t drag out forever.  Once your dossier (remember what that is?  The huge packet of documents you collect during the paper chase) is sent and approved by the country you’re adopting from, the adoption officials and your agency’s representative locate a baby for you from the orphanages they work with.  Then they send you a referral, which is a photo and all the information they have on that particular baby.  You have the option of accepting or rejecting that referral (upon rejection you would wait for another referral), but most people accept the first referral they get, especially if they’re working with a reputable agency that is really trying to match children with the best family for them.

Will you go to Uganda?  How long will you stay?  Yes, we will go to Uganda to pick up our baby!  Most countries require at least one parent to travel to the country to finalize the adoption and pick up the child.  We have the option of taking two short trips (about 2 weeks long each) with 2-4 weeks between each trip OR one long trip of 4-6 weeks.  We hope to do the one long trip because this will save us thousands of dollars in travel costs.

Why do you have to stay so long in Uganda?  The first couple weeks we’ll stay at the orphanage to work with the children and get acquainted with our baby.  The remainder of our time will be spent at a hotel, with our baby, waiting for our baby’s VISA and our court date to legalize the adoption.  We’ll spend time exploring the surrounding area, shopping for souvenirs that we can give our child throughout his life, and bonding with our new child.

How will you both get the time off work to travel?  Josh is saving up sick leave and vacation leave to use for our trip to Uganda and (hopefully) he’ll get to stay home with me for a week or two after we arrive home before he returns to work.  He can also take some “leave without pay” if his sick/vacation leave is not enough. I have always planned on being a stay-at-home mom, so I will be resigning from my job before we leave and not returning to work after we get home.

When do friends and family get to meet the baby?  Because establishing a bond and attachment with our new child is so crucial in those first months home, we will be spending the first couple weeks in “isolation”.  One reason for this is to allow us to get over jet lag and settle into normal family routines (a daily schedule, sleep and eating schedules, etc).  It is important to remember that although being adopted into a loving family is far greater than growing up in an orphanage, adoption is still a traumatic experience for children, even a baby.  Everything in their life has changed — the food, the climate, the schedule, the languages being spoken around them, the smell and appearance of the people who care for them, etc, etc.  We need to build trust and attachment with our baby and establish ourselves as the primary caregivers.  After the first couple weeks we’ll slowly introduce baby to the family, starting with closest immediate family members first — such as grandparents and aunts/uncles — and only a couple of people at a time.  As time goes on we’ll bring more and more family and friends into the picture, always making sure baby knows we are not leaving him and he is safe with us.

How much does it cost?  The answer to this question also greatly depends on the country.  For Uganda the cost is between $20,000–$25,000.  This includes everything (agency fees, airfare and travel costs, homestudy, FBI fingerprinting, US Citizenship VISA, court costs, notarizing documents, etc, etc).  The nice thing is you don’t have to pay it all at once but rather at each point in the process you pay for different things.

Is there financial aid available? YES!  Our very own Federal government gives giant Adoption Federal Tax Refund, which is over $13,000.  YES, it’s true!!  This is not merely a tax credit, but an actual refund.  So basically, you claim it on your taxes the year your adoption is complete and they cut you the check for as much as your adoption expenses were, up to $13,170.  There are also many organization that give out low-interest loans and grants for families adopting.  Many.  More on that later.


One Response to “FAQs”

  1. Natalie Koprowski August 21, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    This all sounds so easy! You’ve sold me. 🙂

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